Managing inflammatory disease in horses

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There have now been around 120,000 horses vaccinated, and while many owners are happy with the results, there have been growing unverified reports of horses having adverse reactions to the injections.

Inflammatory airway disease (IAD) or equine asthma, is a common problem in Australian horses. Yet despite its adverse effects, little is known about the condition.

One person who firmly believes that further research into IAD is needed in order to secure widespread equine health both within the veterinary and racing industry is

Murdoch University veterinarian, Dr Cristy Secombe. She will be speaking at the Equine Veterinarians Australia Bain Fallon conference in Melbourne later this month.

“Research is critical to improving the way we diagnose, treat and even prevent IAD in the future in horses in Australia,” said Dr Secombe.

“How can we make a definitive diagnosis of IAD and are there more sophisticated ways to control the immune system to manage IAD? These are the sort of questions that more research will hopefully provide answers to.”

Currently, the treatment of IAD is focused on environmental management, specifically reducing exposure to dust and allergens.

Dr Secombe said, “Most scientists agree that there are a number of things that contribute to the development of IAD in athletic horses including dust, allergens, infectious agents and a horse’s genetic susceptibility.”

Where treatment of IAD is difficult, diagnosis is similarly challenging. There are few respiratory signs and symptoms such as coughing and lower performance are commonly overlooked.

The main method of diagnosis involves looking at the types of inflammatory cells present in the respiratory tract and the amount of mucus produced, said Dr Secombe.

“We definitely have ways to diagnose and treat IAD at present but the fact is that we honestly don’t know whether there could be more effective options.”

The Bain Fallon conference is being held 17-21 July, Pullman and Mercure Albert Park, Melbourne.

Visit the conference website here.

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